Monday, July 23, 2007

All for a pair of gloves

As I returned home a few minutes ago, I saw a welder cutting a piece of pipe for the new drawbridge near us. My eyes got watery, and I remembered some 46 years ago:

My brother was an apprentice welder who repaired oil line pipe on a barge in the Gulf of Mexico. He was the sole support for his wife and son and my mother and me. We had moved that summer from an abusive situation with my father, and Mom hadn't found a job yet.

A storm came up in the Gulf and all the workers quit what they were doing and went below to ride out the storm. My brother remembered that he had left his welding gloves up top, and he went pounding up to get them, fearing that he couldn't afford to replace them. Another man followed him because he knew how rough it would be up top.

The sides of the barge had spring doors all along its sides where the pipeline fed through as they worked on it. The storm blew, my brother fell against one of the spring doors and it caught him in the middle. The man who followed grabbed for him. Others heard the scream over the storm and came to help. They got both men safely below decks again.

My brother died seven hours later from a ruptured spleen on an operating table in Morgan City, Louisiana, where the man who helped him had his arm amputated. The storm prevented help from getting to them in time to save either my brother's life or his friend's arm.

I have been angry often because he left me with Mom and her co-dependency, but today I am angry that he got himself killed and his friend lost an arm and his livelihood - all for a pair of gloves. The gloves turned out to be more expensive than he thought.

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother David. We thank you for giving him to us, his family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

6 comments:

Laurel said...

... for a pair of gloves.

Heartbreaking.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Sharecropper---this breaks my heart for you. All loss is senseless, in a way, but something like this is particularly difficult.

But it sounds like your brother was a "stand-up guy"---and it is telling that you still miss him all these years later. I will say a prayer for his soul today and for you, as well.

Cecilia said...

Oh Sharecropper... this breaks my heart. I knew you had lost your brother early. But what a terrible waste.

Keeping you in prayer, that your love for him might find a place of lightness in your heart.

Pax, C.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Sharecropper, what a sad, sad, story. I reach out to you with love, and I pray the beautiful prayer with you. May consolation come your way.

Caminante said...

Belatedly, prayers. That's a tough story... deep breaths, deep prayer.

eileen said...

What everyone else said, Share.

Prayers for you.

Life can be so senseless sometimes.

The cost of a foolish decision is sometimes far too high for some people. It's not fair.